The “Citizens of Tomorrow” Youth Exchange was organized in April 2016 in France by the “Hello Marseille” non-profit hostel. The exchange brought together youths from France, Latvia, Macedonia, Greece and Italy in order to exchange ideas about caring for the environment.
On a chilly April morning, we – five young Latvian adventurers – travelled to Marseille, France, in order to take part in the Erasmus+ project „Citizens of Tomorrow”. When we arrived at our destination, we were met by the lovely (and surprisingly international) team of „Hello Marseille” hostel, which was organizing the Youth Exchange. On the first evening, we had a very informal dinner and played ‘icebreaking games’ in order to get to know the participants from France and Macedonia. The other teams, from Greece and Italy, arrived a day later, so we were introduced to them a bit later, but that didn’t make it any less easy to get to know them and make new friends.
On the second day, after a shared breakfast, we all told the other teams a little beit about our country, culture and the organisation we represent. The organizers had come up with a great system: every day lunch and dinner would be prepared by one group of participants, consisting of members from different countries. This way, every day was interesting (and of course very tasty!), because the participants were more than happy to prepare some delicacy from their home country. Of course, we also invited the other participants to taste some Latvian rye bread, caraway cheese and Laima candies.
The project activities were very diverse. From an educational hike through the impressive Massif des Calanque cliffs and cleaning up the Le Prado beach, to a wide variety of activities organized by the participants themselves, showing us how important it is to care for our environment and the people around us. During the activity we organized, we talked about waste management and recycling, and together produced a small carpet from old T-shirts, which we finally gave to the “Hello Marseille” hostel as a gift.
We learned a lot during the project, and some of us even gained the insight and inspiration to change something in their life and work back home. Of course, the fantastic, interesting and very diverse new friends that we made were indispensable. A week may not seem like a long time, but we formed such strong relationships during this one week, that the goodbyes at the end were very emotional. And I’m not afraid to admit that some tears were even shed. I really hope that we will meet these amazing people again some time.
We would like thank homo ecos:, Hello Marseille and Erasmus+ for this great opportunity, and we sincerely hope that there will be more like this!
- Anna Karolīna Ozola, 24 years old
Photos: Anna Karolīna Ozola